School Lunch Iron Chef

January 19, 2010

Today the Child Nutrition Program invited some of the community members in the medical field to a "show and tell" lunch featuring some of the new menu items we’ve been developing, a demo of the new Robot-Coupe choppers the community donated and update the group on some of the awesome changes they have made on the menus.

We started bright and early with the high school managers and a demo from the Robot-Coupe company on how to operate the new machines, which are basically giant food processors!!

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Ready to chop:

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I gave it a whirl :mgreen:

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It’s amazing how much time these will save chopping!

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Everything was fine and dandy until the room filled with raw onion smell 👿

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So thankful for the person who brought in coffee for the group!

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After the demo, Amy and I started working on our My Pyramid display featuring all of the great foods they serve.

I must add, that while this school system is BY FAR way ahead of the game, everything on the menu isn’t healthy. I’ve browsed the ingredient lists of all of the items they serve and raised my eyebrows at quite a few, namely the items you’d expect (pizza, chicken nuggets, etc.) but also the meats, which gave me a new understanding of the phrase "all-beef patty." But the bottom line is that given the $2.65 cents – INCLUDING LABOR – they have per student to serve, their efforts are nothing but amazing.

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After set-up, we were all assigned a food to prepare for the luncheon

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The infamous TONY!

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The luncheon menu was all vegetarian and featured foods that are either ON the menu or in the development stage to be on upcoming menus. The spread was absolutely gorgeous!

Whole wheat rolls, fruit, black bean salsa, corn chips

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Whole baked sweet potatoes ( <3 ) and roasted squash and peppers

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Whole wheat penne pasta salad in a homemade dressing

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Roasted potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes and vegetable barley soup

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A spinach salad (that I made!) with homemade ranch!! They are hoping to re-introduce homemade salad dressings to the menu. They are healthier, cheaper and taste so much better!

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I didn’t have enough slots to fill my tray!

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I had a taste of everything but the barley soup – because I knew I was having that for dinner! Half a sweet potato, a few chips and salsa, a roll, veggies, pasta salad and real salad. I don’t really like ranch dressing but Jim’s was fantastic!

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I went back for fruity dessert

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I spent last week making Iron Chef name tags for everyone who attended with a tagline and famous chef. I was Robin Miller :)

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Back to the office –> to a meeting –> hour commute =

4:00 snack time – a Probar Fruition bar in peach.

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I got home just in time with enough daylight left to bike to the gym.

Why I Love North Carolina: Balmy, 60* days in January (after a week in the ‘teens!) where I can bike without gloves or a coat and not be cold!

I had a great workout – 30 minutes on the ET and a quick weight session before coming home to….

Mushroom, Beef + Barley Soup!

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New acronym: TGFM [Thank God For Matt]

Not only did he take out the trash, unload the dishwasher and get us a NEW BATHROOM FLOOR!! (OK, I was in on that, but so glad he’s been coordinating it!) but he made me dinner.

I don’t have time to recount his whole recipe, but it contained:

  • Button mushrooms
  • Shitake mushrooms
  • 1 portabello mushroom
  • 1/2 a piece of grass-fed beef tenderloin from our freezer
  • Chicken stock
  • Garlic
  • Barley
  • Carrot + celery
  • Thyme, rosemary and pepper

I’m pretty sure you could find a comparable recipe online somewhere. He meant for it to have more broth, but I thought it was perfect. Although I requested sherry or red wine next time for a hint of alcohol flava!

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My hunk also baked and served me a hunk of Great Harvest Flax Oat Bran. Best. Bread. Ever!

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This One’s For The Girls

New Breathe post: Embrace The Cycle

"The Conventional Of The Future"

Love this video that was sent to me today. Organic needs our help!

I’ve got emails to answer> and then I’m off to get in bed before 9 because I’m getting up early for some OATMEAL!!

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{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hillary @ Nutrition Nut on the Run January 19, 2010 at 8:05 pm

I really enjoyed reading your Breathe article. I am trying to be more “in tune” with my cycle. This helped a lot. Sweet oatmeal dreams…


2 Jessica @ How Sweet It Is January 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I LOVE how many healthy things you guys are doing for the school. It is really inspiring for future kids!


3 Megan January 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm

That lunch looks way more delicious than anything I’ve EVER seen come out of a school cafeteria!!

What are the vending machines like at that school? (Sorry if you’ve mentioned it previously!)

Megan (Virtual Intern, Mitzi Dulan, R.D.)


4 Kath January 20, 2010 at 5:39 am

I haven’t seen a vending machine yet – I don’t know if they have them. But they are supposed to be locked during school hours by law, I think.


5 Estela @ Weekly Bite January 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

You are eating some seriously good food! So lucky :)

Have a great night! See you at breakfast :)


6 Lara (Thinspired) January 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

I am so, so impressed with the foods served at this school! Nothing that was ever made in my school cafeteria even remotely resembled that. I remember iceburg “salad” drenched in ranch, tater tots, frankenstein hotdogs and greasy pizza. That spread is lovely!


7 Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg January 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Wow! Amazing that all that wonderful produce could someday be what our children are eating every day in school.

Homemade ranch dressing is my favorite!! SO much better than the bottled stuff :-)


8 The Paris Food Blague January 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm

i am so excited about this school food. you must be so proud to be a part of it!

oh, and stop rubbing it in about North Carolina. I will stop reading your blog.

No, just kidding! great post!


9 Steph January 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Just wanted to stop by and say THANK YOU for exposing me to Great Harvest.. they recently built one within 30 minutes from my house and I went there today.. had a veggie sandwich on Dakota bread and I have to say YUM! I also got a loaf of Dakota bread.. because you mentioned it the other day here. I also tried a muffin, but it was a chocolate one.. they were out of Pumpkin :(
Thanks again 😉 I look forward to hearing about your progress with your store!


10 Kath January 20, 2010 at 5:42 am

Aw how fun!! You must go back for a fruity muffin like Carrot Raisin Walnut. See if they have website with their menu published.


11 Lauren @ eater not a runner January 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm

That is so great that he made you such a nice dinner! And I wish my school had been more like that. We had pizza and ice cream!


12 Food Makes Fun Fuel January 19, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Yum! That looks great! And I never would have guessed homemade salad dressings being cheaper


13 Brittany January 19, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I love that schools are putting so much effort into making healthy food for kids! It must be SO much fun to be apart of!


14 Karla January 19, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Interesting article you wrote! I definitely can relate to those cycles. I haven’t quite figure out if there are certain months i feel firmer or fluffier but there probably are fluctuations. Great food for thought!


15 Stef January 19, 2010 at 8:47 pm

that school’s effort is such an inspiration! sure they’re not perfect, but those are HUGE improvements over traditional school lunch fare. how awesome that you get to be a part of that! and love your green top, and your name tag..go robin miller!


16 Mae @ OhhMay January 19, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I hope more schools fall in these foot prints. While just a few items might have raised an eyebrow there, nearly all of the food served in the cafeteria here had me shocked. It’s not healthy!
There are no 100% whole grain options. There are NO vegetarian/ vegan options and cost is always the luch program’s excuse.
$2.65?! With these options?! That is truely amazing. :-)


17 Eve (Nutrition by Eve) January 19, 2010 at 8:50 pm

That lunch is stunning! I’m very impress with the options they have and how you are helping out! It really makes you think about cooking on a budget when you see how much they can spend. I agree TGFM! You’re lucky to have him :)


18 Gracie @ Girl Meets Health January 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Oh my goodness – that spread looks so fresh and crisp and DELICIOUS! It’s like, my dream buffet =)


19 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) January 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Wow, what an amazing spread of healthy foods! Awesome!


20 Kaite@ Two Lives, One Lifestyle January 19, 2010 at 8:58 pm

It’s great to see a school incorporating so many healthful foods. I’m sure for some kids, they are trying more vegetables/fruits/grains at school than ay home thanks to your efforts!


21 Sarah (OC2Seattle) January 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm

I want one of those Robo choppers!


22 Teri January 19, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I just started following your blog a little bit ago and I love what you are doing at the school! So important and I love that that school is trying to improve.

I’m also a fellow NC-er (Winston-Salem); this weather has been awesome! I moved here from Utah 1.5 years ago and I LOVE the “winters” here!


23 Eileen January 19, 2010 at 9:14 pm

That soup looks GREAT! What a good guy.

Major thumbs-up to the lunch buffet. It looks so amazing, and if any of those kids think they won’t eat the healthy stuff, I predict your hard work will go a long way toward turning them around!


24 Jessica @ The Process of Healing January 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm

How cool that you can get such healthy things in a school cafeteria!! And you don’t have to worry about packing your own lunch.
P.S. Love love your Breathe Magazine articles!


25 ashleigh January 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Your internship looks like SO MUCH FUN and that its a great fit for you!!


26 Maggie January 19, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Wow! So great that the kids are getting all those nutritious foods. And TGFM? So so sweet–love it! I’m totally with Sarah, too. I want a Robo-Chopper!


27 Kristen @ Change of Pace January 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I need one of those choppers in my kitchen! Then I’d have no excuse to not use fresh veggies :)


28 amanda January 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I agree, I also need one of those choppers in my kitchen! The food looks very good that everyone prepared.


29 Christy January 19, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Yippee for sweet potatoes! 😀 & The MyPyramid spread is so pretty with tons of awesome colors!!


30 Heather (The Single Dish) January 19, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I had a sweet potato for dinner! Yummy. Your barley soup looks great, I make that a lot and take it with me to work for lunch- really sticks with me for the entire afternoon!


31 Jenn (www. ) January 19, 2010 at 9:45 pm

That lunch spread looks awesome, as does the barley soup! Dustin isn’t allowed in the kitchen, he doesn’t have the skills Matt has LOL. :)



32 Lauren January 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm

I really never would have imagined that any cafeterias in America were this up-to-date. The ones around here still serve pizzas and hotdogs in plastic wrappers. Yuck!


33 Kerry January 19, 2010 at 9:49 pm

It is amazing what the schools can do for that amount of money. Thanks for showcasing their tremendous efforts, it’s opened my eyes a lot to school based nutrition.


34 Run Sarah January 19, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Everything looks amazing – and on such a small budget too!


35 Deva (Voracious Vorilee) January 19, 2010 at 10:07 pm

That is a great looking lunch. I am wondering more what you mean about the all-beef patties- are there a lot of fillers?


36 Kath January 20, 2010 at 5:42 am

Soy protein isolate…it’s in everything.


37 Cynthia (It All Changes) January 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I love all the healthy options and especially that they are so hearty and vegetarian.


38 Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) January 19, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Your system is definitely ahead of others but hopefully the fresh, homemade trend will catch on. I don’t have kids yet but remembering what they served when I was in school, I wouldn’t ever allow my kids to eat at the cafeteria with the kind of crap they used to dole out. My parents never let me either!


39 Ellen January 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm

definitely impressive school food! a big difference from what many schools feed. have you heard of the teacher that is eating school lunch everyday and blogging about it?

speaking of “all beef patty,” have you seen this article?

disturbing to say the least. check them out if you get a chance.


40 Kath January 20, 2010 at 5:42 am

I saw that!


41 Rachel January 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Wow all of those veggies look amazing! Baked sweet potatoes are my favorite! And I’m seriously jealous of your North Carolina weather.


42 Danielle (Coffee Run) January 19, 2010 at 10:26 pm

I’m so glad to see all the changes being made to school lunches. I remember when I was in school, kids would order trays of nachos for lunch. Everything you pictured looks delicious!


43 [email protected] January 19, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I’m impressed. What a beautiful lunch spread! So, easy to prove that a vegetarian diet can be filling, healthy and super tasty!


44 lindsey January 19, 2010 at 10:36 pm

hello north carolina! i love it :) i’m from kinston! if you even know where that is, it’s so small!

♥ lindsey


45 Kath January 20, 2010 at 5:43 am

I do know Kinston :) But I’ve never been there. Just passed through.


46 Michele | aka Raw Juice Girl January 19, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Wow. Lots of rainbow colors in there!

And it looks like you’re having so much fun!!!



47 lynn (The Actors Diet) January 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm

what an interesting peek into school lunches! yeah, i don’t wanna know about that all beef patty.


48 Jenna January 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm

School lunch looks so great!
I am super jealous of that great harvest bread!


49 Jamie January 19, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Wow, that “catered” food looks UNREAL! why can’t every event have such good-looking, healthy, and tasty food? And I’m also jealous of the mega-chopper – just think of how many stir fry’s you could make!


50 Mandy @ University Cooking January 20, 2010 at 12:21 am

I’m getting so jealous of these school lunch spreads!. They look fantastic :)


51 Heather (Heather's Dish) January 20, 2010 at 12:34 am

what a great lunch + dinner combo! i’d love a huge chopping machine like that at home :)


52 Freya @ January 20, 2010 at 3:32 am

what an amazing spread! gosh if I were a kid at that shcool, I wouldn’t know where to start! I’d probably get really fat with all the delicious food 😛


53 Lisa @bakebikeblog January 20, 2010 at 5:03 am

oh my. what awesome food! Love the whole baked sweet potatoes :)


54 Laura January 20, 2010 at 5:54 am

Good morning Kath! I hope you managed to have a good sleep last night 😉 I just wondered, after you were talking about the dubious pizzas/burgers/chicken nuggets and the very low cost of head budgets reminded me of Jamie Oliver’s campaign for better food in U.K. schools, and wondered if you might want to see his foundation website?
Being green, I don’t know if you have heard of Jamie Oliver or not, probably much more than I realise (!!), but he is a really famous chef in the U.K. and a few years ago began the school dinners campaign, which has resulted in new guidelines for our schools (is also involved in promoting local, natural foodstuffs)- the website has tips on how to ‘healthify’ school menus from school kitchen managers etc so I wondered if it might be worth a peruse? Have a good day blazing the trail!


55 Kath January 20, 2010 at 5:59 am

Thanks Laura! I love Jamie – and his accent :) I watched a video of his where he presented broccoli and all the kids said “ewww” and then he fed them broccoli brownies (or some similar experiment) and they all said “mmmm”. That drives me crazy! I’m thinking about doing something similar if I can squeeze it into the next 2 weeks.


56 Laura January 20, 2010 at 6:45 am

Thats probably one of the nicer ‘experiments’ he did- did you see the one where he showed the students how chicken nuggets are made- complete with separated chicken skin and solidified animal fat if I remember correctly- definitely 90% put me off turkey drumsticks… yes, one of the myriad of different regional accents, my Grampy had a similar one to Jamie’s Essex one- his was East/”Saurf’ (South) Londonish- I couldn’t understand all of his cockney slang, you can buy whole books translating them. I’ll stop nattering now, and get back to some real work 😉


57 Kath January 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I’ve seen that one too. Loved it.


58 Simply Life January 20, 2010 at 7:47 am

wow this is the first time I’ve ever actually wanted to eat at a school lunch!


59 Angie January 20, 2010 at 7:51 am

Kath you are amazing! You are making the dietetic internship look SO much more fun than I remember!!


60 JENNA January 20, 2010 at 9:20 am

hey Kath, your internship looks so interesting! I’m astonished to see how healthy the school lunches are (i don’t remember my school being that good/healthy…i guess its been awhile though…eekk), I was wondering the food you served here, was that for your meeting or do that serve this to the kids as well (fresh salads, roasted veggies)…gosh, you have me dying to find out if schools in this area are that healthy. Is this a public school you are at or private? I’m not trying to be nosy i’m just really curious about it and if schools from state to state are trying to make more of an effort.


61 Kath January 20, 2010 at 7:07 pm

It’s a public school system in the middle of NC with some great inspiring leadership :) All of the food you saw is either already served or being tested for serving in the actual cafeteria. It looks pretty impressive all at once, but remember that there are also tater tots, pizza and other “traditional” foods served alongside the healthy vegetables. Last year they focused a lot on sides – this year’s plan is to tackle some of the entrees and research more environmentally friendly serving trays.


62 Jen Papaya January 20, 2010 at 9:41 am

I think it is fantastic what ya’ll are doing for the lunches for these schools! SO many kids aren’t getting a single bite of healthy food at home – if we can give them one wholesome meal a day, that can make a huge difference. I wonder if anyone is doing anything about school lunches here in NY – I saw a lady put PEPSI in her infants bottle the other day on the subway. SODA for a BABY. I could have cried.


63 Emily January 20, 2010 at 9:50 am

My first KERF comment! Just wanted to let you know the Robot-Coupe was featured in the Salisbury Post this morning if you haven’t already seen the article:


64 Kath January 20, 2010 at 7:07 pm

We saw it!!! And I”m quoted! How on earth did you find it!?


65 Emily January 21, 2010 at 7:14 am

I just moved to Salisbury last month and apparently the Post is a *must*! 😛


66 Pauline January 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

Hi Kath, first I saw the photo with the raw onions on it, and I said to myself: “I’m wondering when Kath is going to mention them” and there… it was :-)). I share the same distaste as you, I HATE onions and their smell. I’m so glad that your recipes are ONION-free!! :-)


67 Jil January 20, 2010 at 10:30 am

That’s an amazing lunch spread — oh yes, I remember back when my school cafeteria proudly displayed “grade D but edible” boxes in the cafeteria…joy. You’ve got such a good hubby and that barley looks awesome!


68 Jessica January 20, 2010 at 11:04 am

I am so completely jealous of the meals that these kids get to eat in their high school cafeteria. i often resorted to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in high school because they seemed to be the safest thing to eat in the cafeteria.


69 Kara January 20, 2010 at 11:13 am

Hi Kath,

I’m the one who asked for the ingredients for the Costco Cranberry Cinnamon goat cheese a couple weeks ago. I ended up making it using the ingredients you gave — OH MY. We are loving it. We’ve had it on apple slices, on salad, on crackers…SO YUMMY! My almost-11 yo daughter has really taken an interest in knowing what goes into what she eats, and she was impressed. :-)

I’m good friends with the “lunch lady” at our school, and forwarded your blog site on to her. This post is great and will give her some good ideas! (And I’m sure she’ll salivate over the chopper!)



70 Kath January 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm



71 Laura January 20, 2010 at 11:14 am

What does “:mgreen:” mean?? I have been a blog reader for quite a while now but have never been able to figure it out….it is really bugging me!! Thanks!


72 Kath January 20, 2010 at 7:08 pm

It means your browser doesn’t translate the code into a cute grinning smiley face :(


73 Laura January 22, 2010 at 8:24 am

Ohhh that makes a lot more sense….I could never figure out why you were always writing that!!


74 Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather January 20, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Looks like it was a lot of fun iron chef lunch style 8) I wish my schools growing up were so ahead of the game with nutritious meals


75 Megan January 20, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Whoaaa…those school lunches don’t look ANYTHING like the crap they used to serve at my school!! We’d have like nachos w/ fake cheese sauce and chicken nuggets and pizza dipped in ranch…ewww


76 Tracey January 20, 2010 at 3:46 pm

All of that food looks so good! My mouth is watering, time to hit up my kithcen!


77 BroccoliHut January 20, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Loving all those beautiful fruits and veggies!! I think if I were at the event, I would pretend to be Ellie Krieger:)


78 Lauren January 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Ok, I’m going to sound like such an old mom (which I’m not even a mom-just a worry wort), but be careful with driving+eating+taking pictures. Somehow I noticed the speedometer in that pic with the fruition bar. We don’t want anything to happen to one of our favorite bloggers (or anyone else!) Ok mom schpeal over 😉


79 Indie January 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Hahah you were driving at a speed of 90 when u took that picture of the bar….


80 Sandy January 25, 2010 at 9:19 pm

HAHA i never noticed that but ur speedometer totally reads 90mph…. lol be careful kath!! 😀 but we appreciate ur hard work 😉


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